"ULTA remains very much on the offensive through in-store investments in boutiques and fixtures, increased spending on marketing, and benefits from growing partnerships with leading suppliers," Oppenheimer analysts Rupesh Parikh and Erica Eiler wrote in a note on Thursday.
The comments come after the firm hosted a holiday beauty store tour of a recently remodeled Ulta location in Edgewater, NJ with the company's management. Based on Oppenheimer's time in store and speaking with management, it continues to believe the chain is set up well for the holidays.
"The look and feel of the latest store prototype are better than any other ULTA that we have been to. This particular location has the latest boutiques and fixtures as well as new brand additions," Parikh and Eiler noted.
Last week, the beauty retailer posted better-than-expected results for the 2016 third quarter and gave an upbeat forecast for the holiday period. The stock jumped initially on the report, but is down about 3% since last Friday.
"We have received a number of inquiries for our thoughts on the muted reaction to ULTA's strong Q3 results. We do not have a great answer, but suspect the lack of a catalyst for the balance of the year and profit-taking represent key culprits," Parikh and Eiler said. The analysts added that they see the recent pullback in shares as an attractive buying opportunity and see an eventual move to the "$300-ish" level.
Shares of Ulta were higher by 0.52% to $255.27 in early afternoon trading today.
Comparable-store sales momentum at Ulta is likely to persist amid strength in the beauty category, benefits from management initiatives and market share gains, according to the firm. Oppenheimer rates the stock "outperform" with a $300 price target.
RBC Capital Markets' annual holiday survey results released today also point to a positive holiday season for Ulta. The results indicate consumers' preference for non-apparel, which supports Ulta, L Brands (LB) - Get Report and Signet Jewelers (SIG) - Get Report , the analysts noted.
Additionally, the firm said beauty and cosmetics share gains "continue to impress." Ulta and LVMH's (LVMUY) Sephora both registered strong mindshare gains year-over-year, indicating possible share shifts this holiday with department stores. There were strong preferences for beauty over handbags and jewelry, with beauty brand winners L Brands' Bath & Body Works, Ulta and Sephora, according to the survey.
Overall, RBC believes consumers still remain cautious, particularly in terms of self-gifting, are price motivated and less compelled to spend more on apparel.
The survey, which polled more than 1,000 millennials and moms in early December, found that 44% of survey takers plan to complete more of their shopping online this year vs. last year. Also, 31% of respondents indicated that they didn't expect to shop department stores this season as "they just don't go to the mall anymore."